Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why are we rushing the board chair convention?

OK, the use of the word "rushing" reveals my position on the subject, but it's still more of a question than a proclamation.

I asked Tom Kopko why we were considering a convention in the middle of August on the last day of the County fair and when so many people are out of town, having made plans months ago.

His response was cogent and rational:

... to meet the August 25 nomination deadline for the Nov 7 ballot and to give candidates and our eventual nominee the maximum amount ofcampaigning time for their respective races.

SBE, RPV and I are together struggling to determine what the law actually says, and what is likely to occur, about the special election underdifferent confirmation and/or resignation date scenarios. There are grey areas, especially when it comes to practical and logistical matters.

In the meantime, I am trying to make sure we are best prepared to meet any scenario. The worst-case scenario of an August 25 nomination deadline caused me to plan for an Aug 19 convention date, if it is needed.

I support planning for an August 19th convention under those conditions -- we certainly don't want to miss a deadline.

But preparing for the worst case, and actually holding a convention before the position is even open are too different things. As I hold out little hope that Sean's nomination will be concluded before the Senate's August recess, I think having an August 19th nominating convention would be a mistake.

There's just something about asking for a final decision from prospective nominees before there is even a position for them to attain to that is wrong.

For example, what if there is a non-public-official person out there who would consider jumping into the race. They may not have the luxury of running for office and keeping their current job, so in order to commit to the process they might have to take a leave of absense. Well, it's one thing to do so if you know you will have a chance at a part-time job as chair in a couple of months.

But what if the position isn't even open, and there is no guarantee it will EVER be open? What if you have to wait until November 2007? Who is going to jeopardize their real job for that?

OK, it's kind of a silly argument -- Supervisors are part-time workers, so they usually keep their jobs or some kind of outside employment anyway. And most employees I guess wouldn't have a problem with giving an employee some time off to test the political waters (I don't really know).

The point is, there could be people out there who are not ready to jump into a short-cycle competition for this position, because they don't have a political campaign organization now. If we have to choose by August 19th because the election is in November, then that's just how it is. But if the election isn't going to be until next March, I think we would all benefit from a nomination convention that was held closer to that date, giving other prosepective candidates a chance to see what they can put together.

I'm not saying we NEED different candidates, or implying there is anything wrong with the current crop of candidates. i'm just saying I hate to get rushed into picking a candidate for an election that could well be a year away for all we know.

I may end up being persuaded otherwise, but for now that would be my position at the July 31st meeting. Have the convention if absolutely necessary, but not if there is no position open yet -- even if we can find some lawyer to tell us it's OK.


Jennifer said...


Perhaps you know - or can get - the answer to this question:

What is this "deadline" of August 25 that I keep seeing PWCRC mentioning?

I don't see any such deadline in the election law. I see that the election is to be held within 45 to 60 days after the judge issues the writ (which he has 15 days to do after the vacancy). And if the general election is within the 60 day time period, then the election is to be held that day.

So what is this "deadline" that seems to be putting this convention on the fast track?

As an aside, I have seen on another blog that Corey Stewart already has the endorsement of all magisterial district chairmen locked up tight. I wonder if that is contributing to this rush to nomination.

I agree with your sentiments regarding other possible candidates out there. This - along with instantaneous endorsements - really does seem to be doing a good job of potentially pulling the rug out from under some additional great candidates. I can see why some people are voicing suspicions that the way the process will be handled will be the way which is most beneficial for Supervisor Stewart. It may not be true. But perception counts.

Greg L said...

This nomination fight will be a big distraction from other important races in PWC, and pull resources from Wolf, Allen, Miller, and Davis. The sooner it is over, the sooner we can focus on getting republican nominees elected rather than fight with each other over who the Chairman should be.

And given that the Democratic side will likely be uncontested, having plenty of time to focus on the Democratic nominee will be enormously helpful.

This nomination needs to be fast-tracked so we're ready to go as soon as possible. I think Tom is making the right call here.

Anonymous said...


State law requires each party, when a special election is called on ht esame day as a general election (which will almost certainly be the case), notify the Board of elections of its nominee by 74 days prior to the election day, which date is August 25.

Jennifer said...

Anon 1:04 am,

What you have written is NOT the ENTIRE truth. Using the partial information you provided, I was able to search out the answer to my question.

When a special election is held on the same day as the general election, the board of elections must be notified 74 days in advance ONLY if a CONVENTION is utilized. A primary leaves a lot more time for things to take place.

So it does seem that the convention method has been chosen perhaps because that best suits candidate Stewart and the party has decided to do what it must to make sure that this happens for him. The party structure has already decided what they want the outcome to be and have found the fastest, most efficient means to achieve it.

Charles said...

Isn't there something wrong with a law that says a judge can call an election within 45 days of the general election FOR the general election, but that the party committee must pick their nominee 30 days EARLIER?

Nobody wants a primary, it's a major waste of time and money, and will drain volunteers and resources from the real elections this fall.

Anon, does the same "75 day" rule apply to the other two methods of choosing a candidate (mass meeting, and I can't remember the last one).

Nobody really wants a mass meeting, it's a recipe for challenges, packing, and general discontent. I forget what the last possibility is, but I seem to remember it was like a primary only with just a couple of polling places.

I wonder, if we have a convention in August, but then the election isn't called for the general election, if we can then "revoke" the convention.

I am fine with the August 19th date if we are electing in November. If we are NOT electing in November, I wish we'd have a chance to pick our nominee later.

Jennifer said...


You're absolutely right. I think the timing is just nutty.

If there is a vacancy, the judge has 15 days for a writ. And then the election must be within 60 days. That's 75 days (maximum).

But if the party wants to have a convention, they have to turn in the candidate choice 74 days out. Ludicrous.

But if the party wants to have a primary, then it can be closer to the election. Why?

Why does the resulting candidate from a convention have to be submitted sooner than the resulting candidate from a primary? That's nonsensical.

I don't think that the primary is the necessarily the best way to go either. With a convention, the participants can be kept to just members of the party. What I don't like is the appearance that it's all stacked and ready to go before anything is a done deal. I don't think that it should be all lined up in advance just to avoid having a primary.

However, looking at it from the other point of view, I do see know that it seems that the ONLY way to actually have a convention is to do it the way it is being done.

Quite frankly, our esteemed legislators need to do some serious work on these laws so that they actually have some basis in reality.

NOVA Scout said...

I thought it was pretty clear that the local electoral board sets the filing deadline for candidates AFTER the judge sets the election date. This August 25th date seems to be either a mistake reflecting an incomplete reading of the governing statutes.

Jennifer said...

Has the board of elections issued any opinion at all in this matter?